Social Media Today has posted a report warning marketers that Facebook is compressing the format for ads on its mobile News Feed as from 19th August 2019.
Facebook claimed that they are making the move to “match the look and feel of the new Facebook design” announced by the social network at its annual Developer Conference earlier this year.
The limited space that will be available for images/videos and primary text to show up on the News Feed will put major constraints on advertisers. So there’d better be good reasons for it - but are there?
Facebook has an extraordinary monopoly of the online social space, so when Social Media Today advises marketers to take note of its decision to shrink its ad format then they have a point.
Their report explains that the following changes are to be made next month:
o Fewer lines of primary text will show on mobile News Feed - Now only 3 lines of primary text will show on Facebook mobile News Feed, after which people will be prompted to click to view additional text
o Maximum media height for photos and videos will reduce to 4:5 on mobile News Feed - The tallest supported aspect ratio for images without links and for videos is now vertical (4:5). Media taller than 4:5 will be masked on Facebook mobile News Feed.
This move from a 2:3 to a 4:5 aspect ratio (the proportional relationship of width to height) and the limiting of instantly visible text means that marketing messages need to be exceptionally focused and attention grabbing.
As Susan Wenograd, Vice President of marketing strategy at the Minnesota based agency Aimclear commented in a recent post in Marketing Land: “The slimming down of creative real estate furthers the need for marketers to be thinking in terms of the long game on their branding. They have less space to try and sell, so they need shorter messages delivered more frequently to cut through the noise.”
Competition hots up
Among the reasons Facebook gives for the format change is to greater presentational uniformity across its platforms and to "drive increased ad effectiveness and make it easier to use the same assets on Facebook News Feed and Instagram feed."
This may be logical from their point of view, but whether it will improve the user experience of Facebook’s platforms is debateable. Yes, it will make it easier to skim through content on mobiles, but the potential impact of the images and videos could be diminished by the cramped format.
Cutting the number of lines of visible primary text from seven to just three will also lessen the opportunity for copywriting creativity. It could lead to some very boring megaphone marketing messages being foisted on Facebook users.
In a recent article on this website, BBI Brandboost reported how competition was hotting up for Google, which was no longer the search engine of choice for many users. New research conducted by the global media agency Zenith and covered by The Guardian has predicted that next year the growth of internet advertising worldwide is predicted to drop to its lowest level since the time of the dotcom bust. By contrast, offline methods such as cinema advertising are gaining new popularity with brands.
The 10% growth forecast for internet advertising in 2020 is by no means microscopic, but it should set alarm bells ringing amongst the tech company monopolies. We strongly believe in the power and value of focused social media marketing, but healthy competition is no bad thing. It is time that the tech giants ceased to take the businesses that use them for granted.